Jul 02 2010

Honeymoon – London days 6-9

Let’s start with a bit of off-color humor, eh what?

Day 6

We started at the Globe Theater, and took the entertaining, actor-led tour.

They were setting up for their production of Macbeth, inspired by Gustav Dore’s etchings of Dante’s Inferno.

We went back to the Tate Modern, this time to actually look at the art. I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment, even though I loves me some modern art. They do have a great bookstore, though. This first shot is a bit of found art by Alison.

After that we went to see Warhorse. Absolutely amazing play based on a YA novel about a horse drafted into the army in WW1, just when cavalry became obsolete in the face of modern war technology. It’s supposedly coming to NY soon, so go see it if you get a chance.

Day 7

The (aforementioned wonder-family) the Gormleys took us to Greenwich to see the Christopher Wren buildings of the former Naval College campus, the National Maritime Museum, and the Royal Observatory where they mark the Meridian for Greenwich Mean Time.

That last pic is Zula the wolfhound, who is incredibly sweet, and who pretty much looks exactly like my drawings of Odysseus’ faithful dog Argos, in The Odyssey (coming out October 12!) When we got home I did a few drawings for the Gormleys of Zula, Gabriella, and Mary Clare. I also played on their trampoline!

Day 8

This was the day we were supposed to fly home, but our flight got canceled due to a certain unpronounceable volcano in Iceland. We were flying American, and they handled the whole thing very poorly. They didn’t cancel us until we were at the gate, and made us walk all the way back to the check-in to reschedule. They tried to put us on the same flight the next day, but we asked a lot of annoying questions and eventually learned that a 757 cannot carry enough fuel to fly around the ash cloud, so we got ourselves put on a different flight with a larger plane (a 767).

After that, we headed back into the city, counting our blessings that we had a free place to stay and nothing super-urgent to rush home to. We didn’t have time to do a whole lot, but we went to visit the Museum of Natural History, which has a lot of cool stuff displayed in an absolutely magnificent building. I think the last drawing I did might be my favorite from the trip.

(click to make larger)

After that we went to see the Peter Pan sculpture in Kensington Gardens, then headed home by way of the opera house.

We also saw this cool wall of colored pencils.

Day 9

Finally we flew out. All transatlantic flights were being diverted around the volcanic ash cloud, so the got an extra couple of hours in the air (boo!), and some pretty spectacular views of Greenland (magnificent and inhospitable!).

And there you have it — our wonderful honeymoon in Paris & London.

Now you’ll have to excuse me for a bit, as I have to find an apartment in NY, move into it, set up my new studio, and finish a little book I’m working on by October — plus a bunch of marketing stuff I need to do for the Odyssey, plus polishing off a proposal for the next book. Yikes! You may not hear much from me for a while.

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Jun 23 2010

Honeymoon – London Days 2-5

Published by under landscape,sketchbook,travel

The weather in London was stereotypically cold & rainy the whole week, so I did a lot less drawing (and outdoor sightseeing generally) than in Paris. We still had a great time, though, because (as I think I mentioned already) There are a ton of great, free museums in London, there’s a ton of great theater, and we had a bunch of great friends to visit and hang out with.

Our friends Rachel and Chris hosted us for a couple of nights, and Rachel took us to the Sir John Soane’s Museum. Wonderfully eclectic place packed with interesting objects and cool architectural details (Soane was an architect). They don’t allow photography, and none of my drawings really came out, so here’s a shot of the outside, plus the lovely park just across the street.

I decided I had brought the wrong art materials on this trip. I thought a palette pre-loaded with bright colors of gouache would be fun, but forgot that it dries up and flakes off the palette (unlike watercolor). I had also brought some watercolor pencils, and those were convenient but they were of inferior quality. So we stopped at an art supply store. Wow. This is my favorite art supply store ever. Nothing student-grade, everything beautiful. Some really cool pigment inks I’ve never seen before, a drool-inducing array of sketchbooks, and an entire wall of ground pigments in glass jars (for those who make their own paint, and don’t mind handling a few hazardous substances). It’s called L. Cornellisen & Son.

It’s at this point that I should admit that this trip was not entirely business-free. In fact, I did some research in both Paris and London for future book projects. And then there were our two publisher visits. First, Alison was invited by a fan of her blog (Lindsey Heaven, pictured below. Great name!) to visit the offices of Puffin Books UK. We sat around chatting about books and publishing with all of the lovely children’s book editors for an hour, then visited their fabulous roof terrace with incredible views up and down the Thames.

Day 3

Ttouristy wandering around the Strand, Trafalgar Square and St. James’ Park, ending with Buckingham Palace.

While wandering by the Park, we happened on the opening of a portrait show by the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. It was quite wonderful. Some of my favorites were exquisite little sketches by an illustrator I love, Victor Ambrus.

Then our second publisher visit: Walker Books UK, Candlewick’s UK counterpart and thus my UK publisher. Again, a thoroughly lovely time hanging out over tea and cakes (ok, donuts) with the fiction publisher, Gill Evans, and the marketing & publicity department. It’s interesting to see how they have to work a bit harder and more inventively over there, because the total market (i.e. the population) is so much smaller than here in the US. I’m not really sure how anyone makes any money at the end of the day, but thankfully it seems that they do. In that second picture, you can see my Beowulf and King Lear on the wall behind me.

From there we walked up along the river to the area around the National Theater, across from Parliament.

The elections were on, so all the newscasters were set up with Parliament as a backdrop for their reporting.

And of course, there’s the London Eye. We didn’t go up, because it’s pretty overpriced, it was a cloudy day, we’d just had fantastic views from the opposite side of the river the previous day, and because Alison says it’s cooler at night. Also stopped in to browse at the excellent independent bookstore Foyle’s.

Poking our heads into the National Theater to get tickets for Warhorse (more on that in part 3), we stumbled on a show of travel drawings, paintings and prints by Doug Patterson. Check his work out, I think it’s quite fabulous.

Day 4

Gotta love the double-decker buses. That fancy building is the Royal Courts of Justice. Chris later told us that the courts are open to the public — apparently you can even watch a trial if you want.

Another branch of Foyle’s Bookstore, where we found my books shelved with Asterix & Tintin. This is the fulfillment of a dream for me :-)

They have a (real) piranha aquarium, too!

Day 5

We meant to hit the Globe Theater, but arrived too late for the tour (they stop tours for the matinee performance), so we decided to try again the next day. We went and had lunch at the Tate Modern, which has a great restaurant with awesome views.

As we were leaving, there was a film crew shooting on the ramp outside the Tate. I don’t know what it was exactly, but it featured an undead boxer chasing a very pale, historically-dressed kid.

After that we went to the Tower of London, which is a pretty massive place. We only got to see about half of it before they closed. Good research material! Starting with the main entrance to the Tower, the prisoner’s entrance, a young soldier, and the chapel:

A model of the Tower, interior courtyard shots, the Rack:

They have some great prisoners’ graffiti:

We also saw the Crown Jewels and related accessories, and took a quick tour through the arms & armor collection, yielding this juxtaposition in my sketchbook, which I call “uneasy sits the crown”:

All in all, it’s a pretty awesome place if you’re into that sort of thing — castles, torture, arms & armor, etc.

Coming up in the final installment, London Days 6-9: Warhorse, Les Mis, Greenwich, cute honeymoon shots, Shakespeare’s Globe, trampolining, The Museum of Natural History, Peter Pan, and Zula the wolfhound. Plus special bonus photos of Greenland!

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Jun 18 2010

Guess what? I’m movin’ to New York!

Published by under Uncategorized

Alison gives all the details here:
http://blogs.publishersweekly.com/blogs/shelftalker/?p=1333

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Jun 10 2010

Honeymoon – London Day 1

Published by under landscape,sketchbook,travel

I don’t have quite as much London material, because we spent less time outside and more time being social, so I’ll just split the London trip into 2-4 posts. But first, here’s a nice drawing I forgot to put up in the Versailles post.

Did I mention we had absolutely fabulous weather the whole time in Paris? Well, it started to turn just a bit cold and rainy the day we left, so we knew we were probably in for bad weather in London. We took the train across, through lots of charming countryside and then the “Chunnel”. Here are some of the views.

The view in the Chunnel looks like this:

Some quick sketches of rooftops from the bus:

When we got to London, we made our way to our friends the Gormleys, Michael and Mary Clare, who were putting us up in their lovely house. Too social for a honeymoon, perhaps? Ah, but the fantastic dinners Mary Clare made every night, the wonderful conversations over good wine around their large dining table with various of their children and lodgers — those were well worth it! Here are Michael, Camilla, me, Gabriella, Mary Clare, and James (Alison is behind the camera).

We didn’t have a lot of sightseeing time that first day, but we did get to the Victoria & Albert museum, which really blew my socks off. The first thing you see when you enter is a powerful sculpture by one of my favorites, Giambologna (see my Italy drawings). After that there are titanic plaster casts of Trajan’s column, a first-rate collection of Japanese netsuke, a fabulous fashion collection, etc, etc.

They have some wonderful buddhist sculptures.

This is their totally crazy cafe:

And did I mention that most of the museums in London are free? Gotta love that!

Next: Sir John Soane’s Museum, English publishers, art supplies, gardens, and more.

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Jun 03 2010

Honeymoon – Paris Day 8

Published by under landscape,travel

The last day of our stay in Paris was May 1st, which is International Workers’ Day, a national holiday in France. We knew a bunch of the main attractions were closed, so we mostly just relaxed in the Luxembourg Gardens, where lots of other people were doing the same. Many of them were chilling out with a book. There were more miniature sailboats too, though not as colorful as the ones in the Tuileries.

We left the gardens and wandered around, and soon found ourselves in an area with lots of small publishers, bookstores, and other book-related businesses.

We walked along the river, ending up near Pont Neuf. There was a lot of commotion in this one square, and we couldn’t tell if it had to do with Workers’ Day or if it was because a soccer game had just ended. There was smoke, and some sort of flare or chemical fire burning. We decided to get a little further back, and found that there were a bunch of police standing around on the bridge, keeping an eye on things.

As we were standing there, and I was trying to draw, the police opened the trunks of a couple of squad cars and started taking out their riot gear!

A large crowd of people spilled out of a bar and started loudly chanting the Marseillaise. We backed up to the other side of the bridge. It was pretty dramatic for about a minute as they approached the line of cops, but then they all turned and went down into the subway station. The cops didn’t follow them, so I guess they figured it was the transit police’s problem at that point.

We stopped by Notre Dame again for one more drawing. We ran into a very funny young guy who was traveling solo, and we exchanged picture-taking courtesies.

As we meandered back to our apartment we took a few pictures of some of the more beautiful buildings in our neighborhood.

Next: London!

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Jun 02 2010

Honeymoon – Paris Day 7 – Opera and Armor

Published by under sketchbook,travel

We started out day 7 with a bit of wandering in shops and bakeries. These music store pics are especially for my dad, who is a lover of diverse musical instruments:

The Red Wheelbarrow English language bookstore:

A great little bakery:

Next, a visit to the famous Paris Opera House, or L’Opera.

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Jun 01 2010

Honeymoon – Paris Day 6 – Versailles

Published by under landscape,sketchbook,travel

Versailles! No wonder the French working classes decided to have a revolution.

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May 31 2010

Honeymoon – Paris Day 5

Published by under landscape,sketchbook,travel

We started off Day 5 with a visit to the Musee d’Orsay. The Orsay is an incredibly fabulous museum. You do not get lost in it like you do in the Louvre, Victoria & Albert, Met, etc., because it’s basically all one giant room — the interior of an old train station — with smaller rooms partitioned off of a central sculpture court. They hang the impressionists against a dark dusky purple wall color that really makes the colors pop. They have a whole room of just pastels, by folks like Odilon Redon, and the colors there are more intense than most of the oil paintings. They have some famous textbook paintings like Monet’s studies of the cathedral at Rouen, but mostly what they have are incredible masterpieces you HAVEN’T seen in textbooks by the great impressionist and post-impressionist French artists.

One bad thing is that they don’t allow you to use a camera inside the museum, period. So here’s a shot of the outside, and a few sketches I did.

Then, the Eiffel Tower!

Of all the sites in Paris, this was the only one that was mobbed on a weekday in April. We braved the crowd to go all the way to the top level. Awesome views, as you might expect. They have Ben & Jerry’s up there, so I’m not sure what that says about the fate of French culture, but c’est la vie.


The tower lights up after the sun goes down. I rather doubt this is the entirety of the “light show” our guide book told us would happen each hour, but it was all that happened at 9:00 on this particular night, and we were too tired and hungry to hang around until 10.

We found a cool little restaurant that specializes only in duck. It was very good, and the other cool thing about the place is that they have toasters on all the tables, so you can toast your bread however you like it.

We took the train partway home, then hopped off and had a leisurely walk along the Siene before returning to our apartment in happy exhaustion yet again.

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May 30 2010

ASP’s Timon of Athens

Published by under shakespeare,sketchbook

Here are the sketches I did last weekend at ASP’s Timon of Athens. I didn’t add color to any of them because the costumes are basically all black and white. And because I didn’t have time, which is also why I’m not going to write a full review. I basically agree with the two reviews I linked to previously.

Excellent performances from the whole cast — depicted below — Steven Barkhimer, Daniel Berger-Jones, Allyn Burrows, Joel Colodner, Michelle Dowd, John Kuntz, Will Lyman, and Bobbie Steinbach).

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May 24 2010

Honeymoon – a brief pause

Published by under travel,video

I just realized that my timing is bad. I was going to post the honeymoon reports day-by-day, but I have other commitments pretty much 24/7 this week. So this post is just to say, the next few honeymoon posts may be delayed.

In the meantime, check this out — Candlewick has a YouTube channel. I hope to contribute some homebrew Odyssey trailers to it, later this summer. Let me know if you have ideas or want to help!

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